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Leadership for learning : lived experiences of foundation phase heads of department.

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This study explores the experiences of three foundation phase heads of department in respect of leadership for learning from quintile 1, 3 and 5 schools in KwaZulu-Natal. There is scant literature on the study of foundation phase heads of department in respect of leadership for learning and very little is known about their lived experiences. This study makes visible their experiences of leadership for learning on a day-to-day basis. The critical questions that constitute the research puzzle are: Who are the foundation phase heads of departments leading learning in primary schools? How do foundation phase heads of departments enact their roles and responsibilities as leaders on a day-today basis? What meanings and understandings inform the heads of departments’ enactments in leading learning? This study is a qualitative study located in the interpretive paradigm and employs a narrative methodology. The narrative inquiry enabled me to obtain rich data from my participants. I used narrative interviews, artefact inquiry and collage inquiry to generate data from the three participants. The key findings that emerged from this study were: The heads of departments have multiple identities as they wear many caps in a day; the heads of department’s roles and responsibilities across the quintiles extend beyond the dictates of policy. Across the quintiles, it is established that the heads of department practice their leadership roles according to the culture and structure of their respective school organisations. In the quintile 1 school, the pastoral leadership of the head of department is most prominent. In the quintile 3 school, there is great emphasis on the pastoral needs of the learners which is balanced by co and extra-curricular activities. However, in the quintile 5 school great emphasis is placed on co and extra-curricular matters. These committed and dedicated heads of departments draw on a wide range of policies and legislation to enact their roles and responsibilities. The directives that the heads of department receive from their principals and senior managers, supplements the meanings and understandings that inform the heads of department enactment of leading learning at their institutions. The heads of department role models and great icons enable them to draw inspiration and aspire to achieving meaningful leadership.


Master of Education in Educational Leadership, Management and Policy. University of KwaZulu-Natal. Durban 2016.


Education, Primary - KZN., Education, Primary - SA - KZN., School Principals., Primary School Department Heads - SA - KZN., Theses - Education.